As the small class reaches its half-season West/East split, things are hotting up. Here too, there were plenty of surprises in store. Joey Savatgy (Monster Energy Kawasaki) made the holeshot but Suzuki’s Justin Hill put in a pass early on and proceeding to fight it out with Savatgy’s teammate Adam Cianciarulo for the lead. Series leader Aaron Plessinger (Monster Energy Yamaha) had a difficult night and was forced to settle for seventh following a frustrating crash, and was later docked a further position for cutting the track as he rejoined. An error from Cianciarulo late in the race meant a determined Hill could bag the win, speaking on the podium he stated: “Now the haters can shut up!” An ever-improving Chase Sexton (Geico Honda) took third. Plessinger takes a slim five-point lead into the month long West season break.
It’s fair to say Eli Tomac has had an extremely mixed start to this year’s season: two DNFs and one DNS, but two dominant wins. He had vowed to enter San Diego’s main event with the mindset of “just go out and win”, but this seemed to go out of the window as soon as he hit the ground. Fans watched as all the fight seemed to drain out of Tomac and he retired on the spot. Shortly after the race finished, rumours were already suggesting Tomac may scrap this year’s supercross season with a view to concentrating on dominance in the motocross championship. For a rider who previously fought hard to stay in title contention, these certainly are dark times for Tomac.
Fellow first corner crasher, Ken Roczen, had rejoined the race despite his obvious frustration at the pile-up. However, things then got very serious for the young German. San Diego’s track consisted of several sweeping 180° corners – perfect for attacking passes or pushing your rivals wide. Roczen had been embroiled in a battle with Cooper Webb, and when the Yamaha rider went high in one such sweeping turn, he saw his opportunity. Attempting to dive up the inside of Webb, Roczen lost control of his HRC Honda and collided with Webb. As his body momentarily collided with Webb’s bike his right arm was sucked between the Yamaha’s rear wheel and swing arm. For a few heart-stopping moments it remained stuck, and when he eventually pulled his arm free it had sustained a badly bruised and cut elbow and, more significantly, a broken hand.
This latest injury could not have come at a worse time for the German, after almost losing his left arm due to gruesome injuries suffered last year, he appeared to have managed an impressive return to racing in 2018. Yet, just as things were getting back on track for Roczen, his right arm, his ‘good arm’ if you will, gets mangled. You couldn’t make it up. The coming days and weeks will reveal the extent of the physical and psychological damage, but it will certainly take a monumental amount of mental strength for Ken Roczen to put these latest demons to bed.
In short, two of the sport’s biggest names have already lost their chance of fighting for the title – Roczen is 39 points down and highly likely to miss next weekend’s main. Tomac is a miserable 77 points down. With Barcia and Seely not exactly firing, this is looking to be Anderson’s championship to lose.